Monday, June 14, 2010

Saluting a Genius: Dr K K Kusuman

Saluting a genius
Sabloo Thomas
First Published : 14 Jun 2010 01:38:46 AM IST

When Dr K K Kusuman, former head, Department of History at the University of Kerala died in a road accident in 2007, a group of his friends decided to bring out a volume in his memory. Dr Suresh Jnaneswaran, presently Reader of History at the University, who was then working in SN College, Chempazhanthy, was asked to take up the task of coordinating the work. and he accomplished the feat in time.

During the work, Jnaneswaran realised that there has been no similar work to honour Dr T K Ravindran, former Vice Chancellor of Calicut University and one of the prominent historians of our time.

In fact, Ravindran is among the few historians of his generation who has not been honoured with such a work.

‘‘That was when I decided to initiate a work that would be a tribute to the great scholar,’’ Jnaneswaran told.

Jnaneswaran single-handedly took up the task of bringing out the book. ‘‘The response from historians was very encouraging as most felt the need for such a book,’’ said Jnaneswaran.

‘‘Many, who could not contribute as they were working on other projects, were disappointed with the fact that they could not associate with the work.’’

It was during the course of the work that Jnaneswaran realised that there were other facets to Ravindran’s personality. Ravindran is a poet with over 20,000 poems to his credit. He is also an amateur painter. Historiography was selected as the topic for the festschrift, as it was Ravindran who introduced historiography as a topic for study in universities in Kerala, said Jnaneswaran.

The work ‘Historiography: Structure and Practice,’ a festschrift in honour of the eminent historian and teacher, has turned out to be a scholarly work and a fitting honour to the great man.

Union Minister for State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran released the book at a function at Palakkad on May 16.

‘‘The Minister cancelled all the programmes for the day to attend the book release function. He arrived well before the scheduled time and sat through the entire programme. This clearly showed his reverence for Ravindran who was also his teacher,’’ said Jnaneswaran.

It is a mystery why many consider Ravindran as an anti-Marxist historian, says Jnaneswaran. ‘‘He, in fact, is the one who first introduced the writings of Marxist historians like D D Kosambi and R S Sharma to the students in Kerala,’’ Jnaneswaran said.

Contributors to the festschrift include most of the prominent historians - Aditya Mukherjee, professor of Contemporary History, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Dr Sukumar Bhattacharyya, former Professor of History, Viswa Bharati, Shantiniketan; Professor R Mahalakshmi, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Professor M G S Narayanan, former Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research and Prof B Sheik Ali, former Vice-Chancellor, Goa and Mangalore universities.

Some of the themes dealt in the book are ‘Ideas in History and Reflections on the Emergence of Indian Historiography;’ ‘D D Kosambi and Historiography in India’ and ‘The Return of the Colonial in Indian Economic History: The Last Phase of Colonialism in India’.

The book is a vast collection of articles that will add to historical knowledge and will serve as a reference book for teachers, researchers and students.

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